Monday, 30 March 2009

DP World confirms Southampton Container Terminal job losses

OVER 60 jobs are to be axed at DP World-owned Southampton Container Terminal, equivalent to around 10% of the directly employed workforce, with the company citing the global economic downturn as the reason for the redundancies.

The large majority of those affected are manual workers, with the move making SCT the first major British port to enact compulsory blue collar job losses as a result of the crisis. The trade union Unite is threatening a ballot on industrial action unless management responds rapidly to a request for negotiations.

Under the initial proposals, 41 of the job losses involve so-called ‘single skill’ grades, such as straddle carrier drivers, and eight involve support controllers, with responsabilities including the placement of boxes. A dozen or so are in office-based roles.

The single skill workers were sent home on Friday at the start of a two-week individual consulation period during which they will not have to report to work, and put on four weeks’ notice of redundancy from 11 April, which again does not have to be worked out.

A Unite spokesperson said: “We don’t accept any compulsory redundancies at the terminal. A ballot will be the next course of action if the meeting we have requested doesn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, a senior ports industry source - who did not wish to be identified - said that to his certain knowledge, other ports around the country are also looking to cut payroll costs and more job losses in the sector are seen as inevitable.

Felixstowe, for instance, recently culled around 20 management and administration staff, and is reducing shifts and offering voluntary severance to manual grades.

SCT managing director Campbell Mason commented: “Job losses are extremely regrettable and we fully appreciate the impact that redundancies have on the livelihoods of individuals and their families.

“This is the first time in over 15 years that the terminal has implemented widespread reductions in manning but, like so many businesses in the current climate, we must take tough but necessary steps to ensure the terminal responds to the severe decline in UK containerised trade volumes.”

“The company’s proposals involve a reduction by approximately 60 jobs from across various areas of our employed workforce and there will be an even greater reduction of the contractor workforce retained by the terminal.”

Container volumes at Southampton are down by at least 10%, according to local newspaper reports, although SCT declined to discuss the issue of current throughput.

DP World confirms Southampton Container Terminal job losses

UP TO 63 docker jobs could be at risk at DP World-owned Southampton Container Terminal, the company has confirmed, citing the global economic downturn as the reason for the redundancies.
The move makes SCT the first major British port to go public on job losses as a result of the crisis. However, a senior industry source - who did not wish to be identified - said that to his certain knowledge, other ports will shortly be following suit.
Container volumes at Southampton are down by at least 10%, according to local newspaper reports.
A representative of the Unite trade union in Southampton accused DP World of favouring the use of contract labour over its own workforce, and added that industrial action over the issue may be considered.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Unite for Jobs: Union and business join forces to push for road map out of recession

This Tuesday (March 31st) will see the launch of Unite for Jobs, a major drive to secure urgent and strategic assistance for UK manufacturing and a clear plan for defending and creating jobs. The move comes amid mounting concern that government action so far is insufficient to avert chronic and lasting damage to UK manufacturing.
The campaign, led by Unite, will mark the beginning of a sustained initiative, bringing together leading figures in business, politics and academia with the country's biggest union to press the case for a jobs strategy with manufacturing placed firmly at the heart of a national programme to propel the UK out of recession.
Unite for Jobs will be launched at a press conference,10am, Tuesday, March 31st at Unite's King Street offices by an expert panel consisting of
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary, Unite
Derek Simpson, joint general secretary, Unite
Lord Jones of Birmingham, (Digby Jones), former trade minister and ex-CBI chief
Paul Everitt, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers (invited)
Professor David Bailey, Director of Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham
Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham

At the press conference, the speakers will set out their ideas for action to preserve jobs, and in particular to restore the UK's manufacturing sector to the heart of the economy.
The press conference will also see the announcement of a major initiative to mobilise the public for action on jobs.
According to Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite: "The Government acted boldly when it came to rescuing those banks brought to their knees by greed and misdeeds of a few. Working people desperately need to see more of the same spirit when it comes to helping them keep their jobs.
"Every effort must be made to keep the lights on in factories and homes across the country. Government must now grasp the hand of expert help being offered so we work together to take the right road out of recession."
Derek Simpson, Unite joint general secretary added: "Daily, workers are paying the price for this recession with their jobs. Whether it is manufacturing, construction, finance or retail, the job losses are mounting up.
"This is the time to invest in support for existing jobs and to be clear on the strategy for creating new ones. We cannot allow this recession to destroy our skills base and our communities, and we must set out the vision for future success so that employers and workers can have confidence that the dark days of the recession will soon come to an end."

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

DP World puts new capacity plans on hold

DP World is to “defer” much of its planned new ports capacity until higher utilisation rates return, but adds that the rapid fall in worldwide container volumes “shows little sign of easing in the foreseeable future”.
The Dubai-based global ports group, which saw consolidated box volumes rise 15% in 2008 to 27.7m teu, has report strong revenue growth of 20% to nearly $3.3bn and ebitda up 22% to $1.3bn, with margins at 40.8% for the year.
DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: “The volume deceleration we saw in the last quarter of 2008 has continued into early 2009 and shows little sign of easing in the foreseeable future.
“Falling utilisation rates across container terminals globally mean the demand for new capacity in the short-term is much diminished.
“Taking into account our existing pipeline of committed capacity the company has decided to defer much of our planned new capacity until such time as higher utilisation rates return.”
The group’s under construction London Gateway project was not mentioned in a results statement issued this morning, but it remains the subject of industry speculation over a lengthening of the timetable for the phasing in of capacity.
When completed, London Gateway, on the north bank of the Thames and 25 miles from the capital city, is set to handle 3.5m teu.
Commenting on the group’s share price, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem added: “Over the next few months, the board will evaluate all available options to address its continued disappointment with the market’s valuation of the company.
“We continue to remain confident of the long-term prospects for the container port industry and DP World’s leading global position within it. “Once the current challenging market eases, we believe DP World will emerge financially strong and well positioned to continue to deliver profitable growth.”
Global container volumes continue to show a sharp decline — DP World saw consolidated group volumes fall 8% in January and February this year.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Talks to push London Gateway project forward

THE Port of London Authority and DP World are in detailed discussions about ways to push the London Gateway container terminal development forward, despite the economic downturn.
Options include reducing the depth of the planned dredge and changing the phases of development, said PLA chief executive Richard Everitt.
Work on the giant container port and logistics park development at the Shell Haven site on the Thames had been due to get under way early this year but the project stalled as DP World began re-examining its major investment projects.
“The positive is that despite all of the difficulties, there is a real desire to get going on this,” Mr Everitt said. “But of course, it has to make sense economically and a lot of work is going on to try to achieve that objective. I think we all realise that this is only going to happen if we can find ways of doing things at minimal cost to get started. I think ways will be found and I think the UK needs to find the ways.”
DP is working to ensure the cost of the project “is tailored to the world we are in now rather than six months ago”, he added.
“This market is certainly advantageous in terms of construction costs. You just look at each and every element and we are working with them on the strategy.”
The dredging of the channel and berth pockets is directly linked to the land reclamation required for the new port. “You can’t do the dredge until you need the material and you can’t to the building until you are doing the dredge,” Mr Everitt said.
The PLA has done some “very interesting, innovative work” with DP on the dredging plans, he said. This included the possibility of reducing the depth.
“We are looking at dynamic under keel clearance, for example. Each cubic metre of material you take out costs money. It depends what tidal window you are prepared to work to – of course it has to be competitive.”
A spokesman for DP World said: “We announced to the market in January that all new DP World development and expansions were under review and once this review is complete, there will be fresh information made available.”
DP World is due to make a new trading announcement to the market tomorrow.
The London Gateway project, to be built in phases, provides for a total 2,700 m of container quay with depth alongside of 17 m and total annual capacity of 3.5m teu when complete.
Mr Everitt said the development was a unique opportunity. “This is about a major logistics park as well as a port. If it was just replicating what you have somewhere else, it would not be so attractive. But this is a very different scenario; an integrated major logistics park with boxes not more than a few hundred yards away.
“When you consider the environment, and cutting down road miles and trade miles, that is a hugely attractive proposition, even in today’s world.”

How workers protest in France

The French have a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to industrial action. When workers at a Sony factory in south-west France were unhappy about their redundancy terms they locked the head of Sony France - along with the HR director - in the factory, overnight. Apparently, it was all fairly good humoured and led to the re-opening of talks.
So far, British industrial action involves a more hands-off approach, but I wonder whether senior leaders involved in mass redundancies should be advised to store a sleeping bag and a toothbrush in the office, just in case...

Wage freezes will only make downturn worse, says TUC

Commenting on inflation figures released today (Tuesday) TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'This is not good news. If we get stuck in a deflationary spiral then the recession will be longer and deeper.
'While many workers in companies hit hard by the recession have agreed modest or even zero increases in pay to save jobs, a generalised wage freeze across the economy will make the downturn worse not better.
'The cost of living is only one factor in wage negotiations, and only those with tracker mortgages have really seen a big impact on their household finances - as the difference between RPI and CPI shows.
'The last thing our precarious economy needs would be a further collapse in consumer confidence caused by a standstill in household budgets.
'Calls for a freeze in public sector pay are particularly unjustified. Public sector pay has fallen behind in recent years, and the modest increases in the pipeline will not make up this difference. Tearing up agreements reached after hard negotiation would be bad faith and hit morale.'

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Put People First march for jobs Sat March 28th

Our union is laying on a coach to take members (and members of their families) free of charge to London to take part in this important event. The coach will leave from the coach lay by at Crown Street, Ipswich at 8.00am. Seats should be booked in advance by phoning the union office at Grimwade Street on 01473 250321 during office hours. Non union members can also book seats at a charge of £5 each.
There's still a week to go and plenty of spaces still available!Hope to see the transport section of the TGWU represented on the march.... full details of the march can be found at

Thursday, 19 March 2009

France strikes over Sarkozy's management
Over one million protesters took part in over 200 protests across France Thursday on behalf of the eight workers unions in the second round of strikes and rallies opposing President Nicolas Sarkozy's approach to the economic crisis. Sarkozy has refused to contemplate union demands for pay hikes or job protection.

Opinion polls show around 75 percent of French voters support the strikes, a considerable challenge for President Nicolas Sarkozy (center)
More than a million protesters are expected to take to the streets of France on Thursday in a second round of strikes and rallies called to denounce President Nicolas Sarkozy's handling of the economic crisis.
Sarkozy, battling to contain a budget deficit that has ballooned dramatically as billions of euros have been poured into bailing out banks and carmakers, has refused to contemplate union demands for pay hikes or job protection.
In a sign of the protest taking hold, energy workers cut off 10,000 megawatts of French electricity production capacity overnight, including 14 percent of nuclear capacity in 11 different plants, the CGT union said.

The strike is also likely to cut refining output and block Marseille's oil port.
The demonstrations against the government's handling of the economic crisis follow a day of protest on Jan. 29 that was joined by up to 2.5 million people and gave fresh confidence to a union movement written off by Sarkozy just months before.
The unions are counting on a massive turnout to force him to give way. Opinion polls show around 75 percent of French voters support the strikes.
"I cannot believe that the government will stay immobile in the face of a phenomenon of this size," Bernard Thibault, head of the CGT union, told France 2 television.
Trains, buses, airports, schools and government offices will all be hit, with workers venting their anger about surging unemployment and the high cost of living in the euro zone's second largest economy.
"A very strong sense of injustice is building up," Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvriere Union said. "I think the government will find it hard to ignore us."
The unions have presented a long list of demands, including a boost to the lower salaries, more measures to protect employment, a tax hike for high earners and a halt to planned job cuts in the public sector.
The government has introduced a 26 billion euro ($34 billion) stimulus plan aimed at business investment and after the Jan. 29 strike Sarkozy offered 2.65 billion euros of additional aid to help vulnerable households weather the storm.
But Sarkozy and business leaders are clearly concerned about the social climate in France, which has a culture of street protests, with disputes flaring across the political landscape.
Union leaders have also warned that widespread social discontent risked spilling over uncontrollably and going beyond normal industrial protests.
"I think that in many places there are the ingredients where anger and frustration can replace classical union action," Didier Le Reste, head of the rail workers section of the CGT told Radio Classique.
Underlining the tensions, workers at a tyre factory in northern France pelted managers with eggs after they were told it was closing and staff at a Sony plant in the southwest locked up their bosses for a night to demand more redundancy cover.
With its large public sector and generous welfare system, France is better placed than many to ride out the economic storm, but it is nonetheless taking a hit, with many analysts predicting that the economy will contract by 2 percent this year and unemployment jump 25 percent to almost 10 percent.
The crisis has already forced Sarkozy to water down his domestic reform agenda and he is facing pressure to undo some of his original moves, including a "fiscal shield" that allowed the rich to pay no more than 50 percent of their income on taxes.
Earlier this year, the government initially refused to budge during a general strike on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, but after a six-week stand off it finally caved in and agreed to a 200 euro hike in minimum monthly wages.

French ports hit by national strike

ACTIVITY at leading French ports has been heavily disrupted today as hundreds of thousands of people responded to a call from France’s leading trade unions to stage a one-day general strike to protest over the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

Cargo-handling was brought to a complete standstill at the country’s two leading ports, Marseilles and Le Havre, as dockers and port personnel observed the 24-hour stoppage, while, at Marseilles, tug crews also stopped work during the morning.

Passenger traffic was not blocked by port workers but Marseilles ferry operator SNCM said it had been obliged to cancel sailings to and from Corsica as seafarers took part in the strike.

The northern French port of Dunkirk said that its eastern docks had been immobilised by strike action but that the western docks, where ferry and container services are based, was operating normally.

An officers’ union representative said that the situation at SeaFrance was particular, given that company personnel were expecting the imminent announcement of large-scale redundancies.

Put people first march.
On 28th March thousands will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their 2nd April summit on the global financial crisis.
Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental.
Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future.
There can be no going back to business as usual.
People from all over the country will join the march on March 28.
Be one of them.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Unemployment passes two million
UK unemployment has risen above two million for the first time since 1997, official figures have shown.
During the three months to January, the number of people unemployed totalled 2.03 million, up by 165,000, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
For February, the number of people getting jobseeker's allowance added a record 138,400 to reach 1.39 million.
There are now 10 jobseekers for every vacancy advertised in UK jobcentres, the TUC claimed earlier this week.

The ONS added that the unemployment rate jumped to 6.5% between November and January.
Unemployment is rising as the first recession in the UK since 1991 continues to bite. Many economists now predict it will go above three million next year.
"This is another milestone in the return of mass unemployment to the UK, and it will get worse before it gets better as unemployment always persists even after a recovery starts," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.
Turning his attention to next month's G20 meeting in London, Mr Barber added that it was now imperative that world leaders work together to help stimulate the global economy.
David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the government should now "seriously consider" temporary wage subsidies.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Expanded Clean-Air Program Off to Strong Start @ Port of Long Beach

Ocean carriers are in a hurry to slow down in the newly expanded "Green Flag" Vessel Speed Reduction Program at the Port of Long Beach. The program -- new for 2009 --pushes the low-speed zone out to 40 nautical miles (nm) to increase the program's air quality benefits. The new 40-nm Green Flag program saw 63 percent participation in January, the program's first month. Meanwhile, the existing 20-nm program is holding steady at 93 percent participation. The Port urges vessel operators to comply with the Green Flag program as soon as possible in order to reap the financial incentives and clean air benefits."I commend the ocean carriers for partnering with the Port of Long Beach in this important clean-air program. Green Flag has been a success and we hope to see vessel operators continue to embrace the opportunity to save fuel and to reduce shipping's impact on the environment," said Richard D. Steinke, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach.By slowing their vessels to 12 knots at least 90 percent of the time for one year, operators can qualify for lowered dockage rates the following year. If they achieve 100 percent compliance, vessel operators are presented with the Port's coveted Green Flag achievement award.
In 2007, the 20-nm Green Flag program eliminated an estimated 678 tons of nitrogen oxides, 453 tons of sulfur oxides and 60 tons of diesel particulate matter. In addition, the program reduced greenhouse gases by more than 24,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. If all vessels participate at the 40-nm range, the amount of emissions reduced is projected to more than double. Vessels made nearly 5,000 trips into and out of the Port in 2008.

Clean-Fuel Incentive for Ships

Taking a step to boost participation in a voluntary clean-air program for oceangoing vessels, Long Beach Harbor Commissioners on Monday, March 9, 2009, gave preliminary approval to a plan to cover more of the costs of switching to clean fuels near the Port of Long Beach.
The Port of Long Beach on July 1, 2008 began compensating ocean carriers for the difference between the lower-cost, dirtier "bunker" fuel, and the more expensive, cleaner-burning, low-sulfur fuels, if the vessel operators voluntarily switched over within 20 to 40 nautical miles (nm) of the Long Beach Harbor.
The Port is proposing to increase the reimbursement for each vessel trip by 50 percent, to cover the vessel operators' cost of transitioning to the clean fuels before they enter the 20- or 40-nm range. Commission members, acting as the Board's Engineering and Environmental Committee, on Monday voted to send the plan to the full Commission for consideration in the coming weeks.
"We have talked to the vessel operators and we made this adjustment to bring more of our ocean carrier partners into the low-sulfur fuels program," said Richard D. Steinke, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. "This is a very cost-effective way to reduce emissions from ships coming into and leaving the Port."
The increased incentive will apply for only the final three months of the voluntary program. Then on July 1, 2009, California Air Resources Board regulations will require vessel operators to switch to low-sulfur fuels near the California coast.
About 20 ocean carriers, representing about 17 percent of vessels, currently participate in the low-sulfur fuel incentive program.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Night shifts spark cancer pay-out

The Danish government has begun paying compensation to women who have developed breast cancer after long spells working nights.
It follows a ruling by a United Nations agency that night shifts probably increase the risk of developing cancer.
BBC Radio Scotland's The Investigation has been hearing from experts and union leaders in Scotland who said the UK government should be doing more to tackle the dangers.
For years there has been growing evidence that night shifts are bad for you.
Among the symptoms: disturbed sleep, fatigue, digestive problems and a greater risk of accidents at work.
But these are the first government payments to women who have developed breast cancer after long spells on the night shift.
Ulla Mahnkopf is one of those who has been compensated.
Long hours
She spent 30 years as a flight attendant for the big Scandinavian airline SAS.
Long hours and disturbed working patterns came with the territory.
Then she developed breast cancer.
"It was awful telling my kids that, telling them what we were facing," she told me.
"It's not just the surgery but all the thoughts - do I survive this? I had bilateral cancer so not just one breast, two breasts."
At first she did not make the connection between her cancer and night working.
She said: "I had no idea.
"But when you think back now I can see that when I stopped flying it was like coming out of a shell, I had been living in there because of jet lag and I can see now I had a totally different life."
“ "The level of evidence is really no different than it might be for an industrial chemical ” Dr Vincent Cogliano
So far almost 40 Danish women have won compensation.
Not every case was successful: women who had a family history of breast cancer were among the ones whose claims were rejected.
The Danish authorities acted following a finding by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the UN's World Health Organisation.
The IARC studies and ranks cancer risks.
Category One risks are known carcinogens such as asbestos. Night working now sits just one rung below that: a probable cause of cancer.
Dr Vincent Cogliano of the IARC said they reached their conclusion after looking at a wide number of studies of both humans and animals.
He said there was evidence to support the hypothesis that alterations in sleep patterns could suppress the production of melatonin in the body.
"Melatonin has some beneficial effects in preventing some of the steps leading to cancer," he said.
"The level of evidence is really no different than it might be for an industrial chemical."
Here in the UK unions estimate about 20% of the national workforce is involved in night shifts.
Margaret Ann Hancock from Edinburgh was like many parents who take on the night shift: she needed the extra money and had a young family to care for.
When she started work at the former Leith Hospital in the 1980s, her shift pattern allowed her to take her three children to nursery when she got home, sleeping just a few hours before picking them up again.
At the time, she said, tiredness and disrupted meals seemed a reasonable price to pay: "I felt like I battled time continually.
"There's only so much you can get done in a day.
"And because I did split nights, I often wasn't sleeping until the following day.
"My sleeping patterns, even now, my eating patterns - that side of it is still with me."
It was during her time at Leith hospital that she developed breast cancer, undergoing a lumpectomy, radium treatment and chemotherapy.
At the time, she said she would never have dreamt that there could have been a connection between her disease and her night work.
But now that she knows it is a possibility, as a breast cancer survivor, she has a clear message for other women who may find themselves in her position: "You should have a choice whether or not to do nights.
"If I knew then what I know would be better, if there is an alternative.
"Because if it's risking your health, there's nothing worth that."
Professor Andrew Watterson, an occupational health specialist at Stirling University, said we are far behind Scandinavia in recognising the dangers.
"I think we can say there is a big public health problem here," he said.
"The evidence has been good over a long period of time about cardiovascular disease and night work, gastro-intestinal problems and nights.
"Work indicates there may be risks in terms of low birth-weight babies and longer pregnancies for women.
"We don't tend to identify the damage being done where shift working is prevalent and I think that's an error. The damage is there but we don't see it and we don't count it."
At the Health and Safety Executive, chief medical officer Dr John Osmond said they were aware of the debate and have commissioned their own research.
"The HSE has been very on the ball in this area and has commissioned a very eminent epidemiologist to examine the risk of working at night and whether there is any link to breast cancer. This report will be completed in 2011."
But assistant general secretary of the Scottish TUC, Ian Tasker, thinks the UK is lagging behind.
He fears workers may be missing out on health checks to which they are entitled under the existing law.
Greater awareness
"I don't think we have enough evidence to say they're not," he said.
"But we have a feeling that perhaps employers are taking the opportunity to ensure these health checks are not carried out or, if they are, it's very much a tick-box approach to it."
In the meantime unions are calling for a greater awareness of the dangers of night shifts.
But for some workers, such as Ulla Mahnkopf, that is already too late.
She said she would have given up her job if she had known the dangers.
"I wouldn't have been flying for that many years, definitely not. Because it's cancer you can die from. So I would like to stay alive."

Singapore box volumes plunge in February

SINGAPORE, the world’s largest container port, saw box volumes plunge 20% in February.

The top global transhipment hub handled 1.85m teu in February, down 19.8% compared to the same month in 2008, according to figures released by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.

The number of containers handled in February in Singapore was 6% down on January, and the figures reflect a huge slump that has been seen in the container trades globally.

Singapore’s container volumes focus mainly on the Asian regional trades and the key Asia – Europe trade lane, on which it is a key transhipment hub for Asian cargo. It is estimated that around one-third of the cranes at PSA Singapore’s terminals are idle at the current time.

PSA, which handles the vast majority of Singapore’s container cargo, reported a volume of 3.72m teu for the first two months of 2009, down 19.7% year-on-year.

Total cargo handled at the port in February was 35.2m tonnes, down 12.8% on the same month a year ago.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Port of Felixstowe Celebrates 'Streamlines' Link

The Port of Felixstowe received the first call of the Flintercarrier, part of a new service operated by StreamLines BV on the 11th March 2009.
The Flintercarrier, with a capacity of 514 TEU, is one of two vessels on a fortnightly service to and from the Caribbean, and is the first StreamLines vessel to call at a UK port. StreamLines was acquired in September 2008 by Belgian Reefer giant Seatrade, who bought the company following the collapse of Europe West Indies Lines in July 2008.
Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer for Hutchison Ports, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, commented:
“The Port of Felixstowe has provided important connections for trade with the Caribbean region for many years, and we are delighted to welcome Streamlines as the newest operator on this route. The fortnightly container service provides UK importers and exporters with greater choice, and the potential to connect with a myriad of other services at the UK’s biggest container port.”

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Near miss reports

I recently asked my workmates in the tug division a question. It was just a poll that I did in the messroom, it's not accident stats or an official company questionnaire.

Have you ever had a near miss or accident because of another vehicle failing to stop at a give way junction on the port?

Yes 50
No 10

I then asked. Did you fill out a near miss report?

Yes 7
No 53

As far as the company is aware there have only been 7 accidents/near misses of this type on "C" shift.

If we don't tell them they don't know there is a problem.

Please if you're landed with a box and the weight is wrong put a near miss report in.
If a haulier just misses you on the quay put a near miss report in.
If a lashing bar falls off the container on the tug in front of you, put a near miss in.

If you don't want to put your name to the report give it to me and I'll put my name on it and get back to you when the report is investigated.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Maersk Line to lay up as many as 25 boxships
AS MANY as 25 containerships could be taken out of service by Maersk Line as the market leader grapples with a collapse in demand at a time of fast rising capacity and impoverished freight rates.

Maersk could withdraw vessels with a combined capacity of about 150,000 teu — equivalent to more than 8% of its existing fleet.

The lay-up plans were disclosed by Maersk Line chief executive Eivind Kolding, who also said it was probable that all liner shipping companies would sustain losses in the current year.

According to Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit, 18 containerships with the prefix ‘Maersk’ have reported no movements for more than 19 days, which could, therefore, indicate they are inactive.

Friday, 6 March 2009

New research shows too much work is not good for you after all

With all the kafuffle from UK businesses and the government around opt outs to the working time directive, and fit notes instead of sick notes, new research shows in fact too much work is not good for you.
There has been an overtime culture in the UK for decades, with millions of workers actually working this overtime for no extra pay. Employees who work long hours could be putting themselves at risk of developing dementia. That is according to research from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.The study of 2,214 British civil servants found that middle aged employees who worked for over 55 hours a week also had worse short term memory and were less able to recall words than those who worked less than 41 hours.
Commenting on the results, the researchers said: "This study shows that long working hours may have a negative effect on cognitive performance in middle age."The link between cognitive impairment and dementia later in life is clearly established."The researchers went on to suggest that employees who work long hours are putting themselves as at much risk of developing dementia as those who smoke.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Uniserve to build DC at Felixstowe

Logistics firm Uniserve has purchased 10.6ha of land at the port of Felixstowe and plans to build a £45m (US$63.9m) distribution centre on the site.

Iain Liddell, MD of Uniserve Holdings, said building a facility on the port would allow it to save customers money.

"The portcentric development will deliver cost savings on inland transport, reduced carbon emissions and enhanced speed of service,” said Liddell.

“This project will also provide an unrivalled opportunity for Uniserve's customers to join with the company, in developing a purpose built port-side distribution centre, with the added attraction of a rail link capability.”

American Commercial trims workforce

AMERICAN Commercial Lines revealed that it sacked 15% of its land-based salaried workforce last week, as it concluded that economic conditions would remain ‘difficult’ this year.

This revelation was accompanied by news that American Commercial Lines has closed its Houston office and imposed a salary freeze on the rest of its staff for 2009, as part of “continuing and accelerating efforts to drive costs out of the business in every area”.

Chinese port volumes shrink in February;jsessionid=8E99C95A7CE74C9B22E9890EBA077544

MAJOR Chinese ports, including Shenzhen and Shanghai, saw volumes continue to deteriorate in February as the country sees no sign of export recovery.

Big brother port Shanghai recorded another double-digit shrinkage in volumes in February. The world’s second-busiest boxport handled 1.5m teu in February and 1.9m teu in January this year, representing year-on-year declines of 19% and 17% compared to the same months last year, according to Shanghai International Port Group.

Meanwhile, neighbouring port Ningbo port even saw throughput dive deeper in February. Ningbo port said it handled 1.4m teu in the first two months of this year, down 14% from the same period last year. The decline in monthly box volumes has widened from 5% in January to 23% in February.

Shenzhen port, the nation’s second-largest container port, also saw box volumes fall by 21% in the first two months of this year.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

"A" Shift senior shop steward elections.

I'd like to thank you people that read the blog. I do it in my spare time and at my own expense to help keep my workmates informed of any issues I think might be of interest. Now I'd like to ask you for something in exchange!

Sometime after March 20th there will be an election for the post of Senior Shop Steward working with "A" shift. I will be standing and would like your votes. So here's a little bit about me and why I want the postion.

About me.

My name is Andy Hussey. I have worked for the Port of Felixstowe for over five years. I started in warehousing and am now employed as a tug driver on Trinity. Previously I worked in light haulage and tried my hand at pub management.
I have a large family of six children, four of my own and two step kids. My hobbies include my allotment, scootering, photography, tattoos (getting them and going to conventions), and walking my Border terrier.

Why did I apply for the position of workforce rep, and why am I standing as senior shop steward?

In the past I felt that the union was missing a link between them and the people that mattered. I feel passionately about keeping my work mates informed about union and health & safety matters. After getting the position of workforce rep I started a blog site I use this as another tool for keeping port employees informed.

What do I plan to bring to the role of shop steward?

I aim to have a good working relationship with both management and workforce. I will continue to keep all divisions up to date on union and Health & safety matters through visiting the mess room and keeping the blog up to date.

I will carry on being honest and open, if I can’t answer your questions straight away I will do my best to get back to you.

I intend to bring the union at the Port of Felixstowe into the 21st century with the aid of my blogsite and email contact with the workforce.

Bringing the union at the Port of Felixstowe into the 21st century.

Box lines face combined loss of $32bn
CONTAINER lines face a combined loss this year of $32bn if conditions remain as they are.
That is the latest projection from Drewry Shipping Consultants in a fast-moving marketplace where forecasts are having to be adjusted almost daily.
Carriers will not be able to make anything like enough cost savings to offset a massive slump in revenue as cargo volumes and freight rates collapse, according to Drewry’s liner shipping director Mark Page.
The firm estimates that container operators’ income could be down by between $65bn and $68bn this year, on a very basic calculation, wiping out the industry’s 2008 operating profit of $8bn when revenie totalled around $220bn. Potential for budget cuts is far less than the possible revenue drop, leaving a gap between the two adjusted figures of some $40bn.
The collapse in freight rates has been sudden and brutal, with eastbound transpacific rates dropping by more than a quarter in the first eight weeks of the year.
The speed of the market collapse has “overwhelmed the carrier community,” he continued, with those lines that have yet to respond likely to “regret not taking radical action sooner.”

Monday, 2 March 2009

What's the union ever done for us?;jsessionid=AE9EFF6E5268243BF26D6E8F506D93F6

Kuwaiti port employees launch work stoppages

SOME 900 employees at the Kuwaiti ports of Shuaiba, Shuwaikh and Doha have launched a series of short stoppages over pay and conditions, after protesting that they have been on the same salary for over three decades.

Now think again!